Email marketing has evolved greatly in the past 10 years. Even with the advent of social media, email is still the most popular method of electronic communication.
The most important distinction with email marketing is opt-in or direct emailing. Opt-in means addresses are collected by the user entering their email and agreeing to receive email communications. Direct email can be considered 'spam' - but the Can-Spam act really just outlines how direct bulk unsolicited email marketing can be done. Several rules of compliance need to be followed, including the content of the message and the method in which they are delivered:
- A visible and operable unsubscribe mechanism is present in all emails.
- Consumer opt-out requests are honored within 10 business days. 
- Opt-out lists also known as Suppression lists are only used for compliance purposes.
- Accurate from lines (including "friendly froms")
- Relevant subject lines (relative to offer in body content and not deceptive)
- A legitimate physical address of the publisher and/or advertiser is present. PO Box addresses are acceptable in compliance with 16 C.F.R. 316.2(p) and if the email is sent by a third party, the legitimate physical address of the entity, whose products or services are promoted through the email should be visible.
- A label is present if the content is adult.
Sending behavior compliance
- A message cannot be sent through an open relay
- A message cannot be sent without an unsubscribe option.
- A message cannot be sent to a harvested email address
- A message cannot contain a false header
- A message should contain at least one sentence.
- A message cannot be null.
- Unsubscribe option should be below the message.
Content is exempt if it consists of:
- religious messages;
- political messages;
- content that broadly complies with the marketing mechanisms specified in the law; or
- national security messages.
Of course, this is a US law and each country has different variants of spam legislation. In some regions it can be considered spam even if you email a contact who does not first give permission (making any direct emailing non-compliant).
Components you need
To design an email campaign, you will need:
- Email addresses - this is an important factor, how you obtain the email addresses can greatly impact the effectiveness of the campaign. It's possible to purchase opt-in email lists for a specific niche.
- Email software - Digital Internet Productions recommends obtaining a domain name with Microsoft Hosted Exchange. Each hosted exchange comes with a license for Microsoft Outlook.
- SSL Certificate (optional) - An SSL will allow you to obtain a digital certificate for your email, increasing the chances of successful delivery. Get your SSL here from FX System Hosting.
- Email management software (optional) - If you are sending out emails regularly, or to a large group of recipients, outlook may not be sufficient to manage your lists. Vector offers Express Email Marketing packages that can manage your campaign. Constant Contact is a also a great solution, order below and receive a free 60 day trial: